Objective - To estimate direct and indirect contact rates on livestock facilities and distance traveled between herd contacts. Sample Population - 320 beef, dairy, goat, sheep, and swine herds, 7 artificial insemination technicians, 6 hoof trimmers, 15 veterinarians, 4 sales yard owners, and 7 managers of livestock-related companies within a 3-county region of California. Procedure - A questionnaire was mailed to livestock producers, and personal and telephone interviews were conducted with individuals. Results - Mean monthly direct contact rates were 2.6, 1.6, and 2.0 for dairies with < 1,000, 1,000 to 1,999, and ≥ 2,000 cattle, respectively. Mean indirect contact rates on dairies ranged from 234 to 743 contacts/mo and increased by 1 contact/mo as herd size increased by 4.3. Mean direct monthly contact rate for beef herds was 0.4. Distance traveled by personnel and vehicles during a 3-day period ranged from 58.4 to 210.4 km. Of livestock arriving at sales yards, 7% (500/7,072) came from ≥ 60 km away, and of those sold, 32% (1,180/3,721) were destined for a location ≥ 60 km away. Fifty-five percent (16/29) of owners of large beef herds observed deer or elk within 150 m of livestock at least once per month. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - Direct and indirect contacts occur on livestock facilities located over a wide geographic area and at a higher frequency on larger facilities. Knowledge of contact rates may be useful for planning biosecurity programs at the herd, state, and national levels and for modeling transmission potential for foot-and-mouth disease virus.
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